Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, January 12, 2015

Thoughts on Genealogical Investigations in Immigration – Part One: The Beginning

My own ancestors come from a very small selection of countries: England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia (from England) and Denmark. During the week of January 12 to 16, 2015, I attended the Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG), my track during the conference was on immigration. The main instructor was David Ouimette, CG from FamilySearch. His ancestors came from Poland. At the time his ancestors left Europe, that area was part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire. I am definitely not an insider here at this conference. Time to learn and reflect.

This fact brings up several important considerations. The first task is to identify the place of origin and then follow up by identifying the types of records available. The next step is to identify where the records are located. Bear in mind that the records may not be located in any of the online resources; you may have to take a trip to the country of origin.

The main difficulty here is finding and gaining access to the record repositories. Not all such repositories are open to the public. They may even be antagonistic to genealogical research at all. An example that came out in the class was the Harvard Business School, Baker Library. They have genealogically valuable business records that contain important information on immigrants. However, the library states the following:
Baker Library Historical Collections' materials are available for academic and scholarly research. There may be restrictions on the use of selected collection materials. Due to our limited staff and preservation concerns, the collections are not open for genealogical research. 
Visitors are asked to complete a registration form and present identification with a recent photograph and a current address.
From time to time, I write about the antagonism between genealogy and academic historians. This notice is a blatant example of the prejudice from the academic history community against mere “genealogists.”

Not all of these records are locked up in archives, churches and libraries. Records are constantly being digitized and it is important to determine if your ancestors’ records are already online before “taking the plunge” and traveling to the place of origin.

1 comment:

  1. All of the links to what's supposed to be "The Ins and Outs of Evidence for Genealogists -- Part Four" go here instead. Based on the title of this post, I'm guessing that it's *not* intended to be part of the "Evidence" series.